Even as APNU/AFC accelerate their election campaign, under the cover of government outreaches, and even as they mischievously are telling people elections will be held in December, GECOM is defying the law and their own mandate by not preparing for elections which were due more than six months ago. The continued House-to-House (HtH) Registration is a vulgar defiance of GECOM’s mandate to ensure elections are held within the constitutionally mandated time. Given that time expired since March 21st, one would have thought that GECOM would be in a hurry. Instead, GECOM appears to be marching on someone else’s orders at snail pace, as if elections are in the distant future.
After the Chief Justice ruled on the HtH on August 14, one week ago, the Attorney General and his APNU/AFC colleagues, together with the State media apparatus and their other media sycophants, desperately tried misconstruing and misrepresenting the rulings of the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice was very clear in her ruling, first, reiterating that upon the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2018, elections were due before March 21. The direct implication is the Government lost its right to govern more than six months ago. Therefore, the President, in his caretaker capacity, must call elections within the shortest possible time and GECOM is obligated to implement a plan facilitating the earliest possible date for elections.
GECOM has a single responsibility right now; it is to consider which options it could legally exercise that will permit an election at the earliest possible time, given the Government’s right to govern ended on March 21.
The CJ, secondly, ruled the existing voters’ list can be refreshed either by a Claims and Objection process or by a House-to-House Registration process, but the prudent option must be the one which facilitates the earliest time for elections. Third, the CJ ruled the National Register of Registrants (NRR) from which the Voters’ List is extracted cannot be discarded. Once someone is registered, that person’s name cannot be removed unless the person died, become insane, or become disqualified as provided for under the law. If someone is already registered, there is no need to re-register. Being out of the country does not disqualify anyone from being on the NRR or voters’ list. The implication is anyone in possession of an ID card obtained before now can continue to legally use that ID Card.
Which of the two options— Claims and Objections or HTH — to refresh the Voters’ List facilitates the earliest elections date? Clearly, the Claims and Objections option facilitates the shortest possible time to conduct elections which now are already six months late. GECOM will be abrogating its responsibility and will act recklessly if it does not utilise the legal, time-tested option it has for conducting elections in the shortest possible time.
The HtH Registration option, the President and APNU/AFC are insisting on, unreasonably and illegally extends the timeline for elections. In addition, it illegally throws people off the list and illegally discards the NRR. The CJ’s ruling emphasised Claims and Objections can effectively address any concern that there are people whose names are not listed. They can add their names during the Claims and Objections process. The President’s other concern was that there are names of dead people on the present list. These names can be removed by the legal process which has always existed, that is GECOM removes names of dead persons once the GRO provides a list of persons who have died. Stakeholders can also identify such names and have them removed during the Claims and Objections period. As far as those persons who might have migrated and whose names are on the list, they cannot have their names removed. That would be illegal.
It will not only be reckless for GECOM to pursue the HtH option, an option that lengthens the time to conduct elections, but GECOM will, consciously or unconsciously, be an accessory to violating the Constitution, supporting an illegality and sustaining a dictatorship. It is obvious the President and APNU/AFC is utilising every possible excuse to avoid the elections. The Constitution is clear – the elections were due since March 21.
No matter how much disinformation and spin, it is clear, the NCM was validly passed on December 21, 2018, elections were due since March 21, 2019, the President and his ministers are now illegal and GECOM must prepare itself to conduct elections in the shortest possible time. The Parliament spoke. The Judiciary has affirmed the Parliament acted in accordance with the Constitution. The HtH Registration is another ruse to avoid elections in the shortest possible time. The shortest path to an election, a necessity at this time, is Claims and Objections. Justice Claudette Singh has had a distinguished career, she must ensure GECOM acts within the Constitution and not allow APNU/AFC to lure her into becoming an accessory to illegally delaying the elections.